Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
May 23, 2012
by Gary Alan Miller
Cloud Computing Key to Fighting Data Loss
Adobe Delivers Web Experience Management in the Cloud
Girl Scouts Move Commerce to the Cloud
These are headlines recently found on Google News. “The cloud,” it seems, is everywhere. In fact, a recent Google search on “the cloud” produced more than 70,000 news articles referencing it. But, what is the cloud and why should you care?
First things first: “The cloud” is a metaphor. Having something in the cloud essentially means it is not being stored or operated on local computers. Rather, it’s stored at a location that is remote from your local systems and usually is accessible via an Internet connection.
For a practical example, let’s pretend that you set up an account on YouTube and decide to store all your office’s videos there. Your videos are in the cloud.
So, why all the fuss?
In recent years, more and more cloud-based services have come into the marketplace, and in some cases, they are providing services that haven’t been available previously. Although there are many types of cloud-based services, the one that could likely be most useful to your day-to-day work in career services is a category known as “Software as a Service” (often shorted to “SaaS”).
An example might be a cloud-based file-sharing system that allows you to easily store documents that you need to share among a variety of people. For example, let’s say you’re serving on a working group whose members are scattered across the country. A place to easily store and share documents could keep your e-mail inbox from overflowing. There are many such solutions available, and some of those are discussed in an article titled “Dropbox vs. The Alternatives.”
But, cloud platforms go well beyond simple storage areas. You are likely familiar with Google Docs, which gives you options for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and more—all in the cloud. Evernote is a cloud-based notes system that I have found tremendously helpful as it syncs across all my devices (phone, tablet, desktop, and web interface).
Many subscription resources available to career centers are actually cloud-based services.
No doubt you were more aware of the cloud than you may have realized because you are potentially already using it every day!
Gary Alan Miller is the assistant director for social media and innovation at university career services at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. You can follow him on twitter at @garyalanmiller.